At the groundbreaking ceremony to build in the district of Khsach Kandal, Kandal province three roads and eleven bridges, Samdech Hun Sen made the following selected and translated address:
… I am very pleased today for having a chance to return to the district of Khsach Kandal to preside over the groundbreaking ceremony for which three roads and eleven bridges are being constructed. This is a scarce opportunity and it is also not by chance to have a construction site of this size for the improvement of infrastructure aimed at generating the economic growth and reducing poverty among our people. May I take this opportunity to first of all express my gratitude to the venerable head monk of Prey Baing pagoda for offering us the place to organize the ceremony and to our people whose residences situated along the three roads to be built for their support to the initiatives. I also wish to thank the Ministry of Economy and Finance, for which we have here the presence of HE Senior Minister Keat Chhon, our people, the military engineering team as well as Kandal’s public works office for the collaboration in implementing this project. Without the support from the Ministry of Economy and Finance and its experts, we may not be able to gather budget for a construction of this size, which cost in all Riel 12 billion.
… The construction has partially started and will be using up to 100 road-building machineries. HE Kong Eang of the military engineering team of the Department of Logistics of the Ministry of National Defense just said that roads and bridges in this area were built in the 1970s using outdated machineries because in those days money was used for purchasing modern weapons for the fight and not modern construction machines. Therefore the roads and bridges built at that time were not able to sustain in face of destructive war and flood.
… I wish to recall a bit about my trip in 1989 to this area. I was traveling on a motorbike under a heavy rain. It is known to all that riding the motorbike under rain is better than riding it when the rain stops because its wheel would be caught by mud. My itinerary at that time was first Prek Tameak and from there to the district of Srey Santhor of Kandal. Returning from Srey Santhor, I came by and stayed one night in the commune of Sanlong of the district of Khsach Kandal. We then had to cross a waterway by a ferry which was one made of two boats and moved by hand pulling the string which is tied to ether side of the waterway. I have decided in consultation with the Minister for Transport and Communication and the Governor of Kandal in those days to build the Preah Kunlong Bridge in place of the ferry. The bridge survives consecutive floodings as I promised that if the bridge is broken by flood I would immediately rebuild it. The bridge was inaugurated in March or April of 1990. We noticed later that the section of road from the bridge to the commune of Viheasuor was constantly damaged. By late 1995 and early 1996, I have raised money from friends abroad of about US$ 100,000 to repair the road. In just a short while, the flood in 1996 washed it away. In 2000, the Asian Development Bank through the Ministry of Rural Development offered to build two concrete bridges but they two were washed away right away.
… Also I could remember about my trip the district of Pearaing (which on the other side of the Small River). It was in 1984 during the Prochum Ben Day. I traveled by speedboat and joined the people in the area in their boat racing ceremony in the small river. I have a lot of memories in the area and I could be said to be the only Prime Minister in this world who had traveled the longest distance by motorcycle. I also came to the Kampong Popil commune with the late HE Sin Song to observe place to build the bridge of Kompong Popil and its construction in 1993. I also came with him to put the bridge into use as well.
… Let me now talk about what we are going to do today. I also have sent here a team to help resolve our people’s difficulties and needs and I wish to thank them for their very good work. The last team I have sent to help the people in the district of Khsach Kandal is led by HE Aun Poan Munnirath, who is also the Head of the Supreme Economic Council and my advisor. He had brought a team to observe the situation in this area and according to the study the area has got economic and agricultural potentials. But development efforts in this area have not been sufficient in comparison to those potentials. This area has a combined potential of the district of Khsach Kandal of Kandal and the districts of Pearaing and Srey Santhor of Prey Veng. The gap so far has been the lack of road link and transportation. It is also true to mention about other needs like water damn or dike, but road link has been the priority. In our judgment, this area could be threatened by flood. In rainy season, this area is inundated with only spots of high land surrounded with water like islands. I am always present before anyone else when the area is affected by serious flood in order to deliver relief, taking for instance the flood in 2000 and 2001.
… Taking into consideration the three roads and eleven bridges to be built, we have planned to use up to 462 meters of Bailey or cost us in all about 40 kilos of gold. HE Keat Chhon, one of the experts who did the study of the road system in the Kingdom of Cambodia, has a wide knowledge of the potential of the area and the need for road access. Also in the Japanese study recently, Prek Tameak has been selected as the point where a bridge has to be built. But because we have not got the road built yet, the bridge has been built at the Tonle Bet in Kompong Cham instead. Otherwise we would have a bridge across the Mekong at Prek Tameak rather than in Kompong Cham. Before they used to say “Prey Nokor falls, Phnom Penh disappears, Battambang destroyed, Angkor Wat is happy.” Now we could change the saying to “Kompong Cham unites, Phnom Penh is happy, Battambang is beautiful, and Angkor Wat has fun.” Kompong Cham has now linked between its eastern and western side because of the Kizuna Bridge. Overall, the period as envisaged by the saying has gone and what we have left is the sermon in every pagoda.
… Take for instance this area before was full of gunfire and it is the hottest battlefield between 1974 and 1975. There was this soldier named San and he fought defending the barrack at Prek Tameak until he became Sak Pram. It was a tough battle because it is the belt that protected the capital of Phnom Penh. Just now HE Governor Tep Nunnry mentioned of the development projects in the western side of Kandal – Angsnuol and Kandalstoeung including also the district of Kongpisey of Kompong Speu and Khan Dangkor of Kandal. We also have the construction site of road 21 between Kandal and the border of Vietnam. We may have to seek to finish the five kilometers left as ADB does not have fund to finish it. We have to provide pre-financing to the Public Works of Kandal to bridge the remaining five kilometers. So around Phnom Penh we have three big construction sites – the road and bridge construction site here in Khsach Kandal, the construction site in the western side of Phnom Penh and the National Road 21 between the border with Vietnam and Takhmao. Aside from this we have so many construction sites throughout the country that are in operation. This is what I would say the implementation of the locomotive strategy for the economic growth and poverty alleviation.
… I would not give my agreement to the argument that economic growth could be achieved without having to pay attention to the construction of roads and bridges. We should at least think of four priorities – water, roads, electricity and human resources. They all have equal importance and we have to re-prioritize according to the real situation of each place. Where there already has been water, road should become the first priority, and vice versa. The four priorities are the areas for which investment should be made. Take for instance this area could become another rice bowl for Cambodia when we put into perspective the existing potential for agriculture of Khsach Kandal, Srey Santhor and Peareang combined. So far we have not made sufficient investment in this area yet. Look at the mat-making handicraft. This area could provide the mat for use throughout the national market and also for export to other countries as well. They are needed in restaurants in Japan. But because we do not have the means of transport, to supply them to the market is unfeasible. So today we have come to put into practice the locomotive strategy, which should lead to economic growth and poverty alleviation.
… A country needs to have road access – small, big and average sizes, and canals of all sizes. It is no different to a human body which has to have all sizes of veins. Any damage in one vein would cause trouble to the rest. This is not only what we say where there is road there is hope, but it is a vital factor of either one’s body or country. For so long in the past the veins have been damaged, and our country has fallen into the underdeveloped situation. So now we have to rebuild all roads and bridges that existed before the war. We have put out a vision that all asphalted roads in the Sangkumreastr Niyum must be re-asphalted by 2005. We also have to build roads to other places where roads are needed because the number of population has grown more than before. Let me take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to HE Senior Minister Keat Chhon, who, in his old age of 69, had made a trip to visit the road construction site at Preah Vihear near the border with Thailand. He is doing so because he has sensed the focus of the Prime Minister on roads and bridges construction. He had gone to the most difficult-access area.
… We are also having this problem of population growth to tackle for as the number of population grows while there are increasing demands for residential and cultivation land. In retrospect of the situation we have broaden the infrastructural development beyond the capital and its surrounding to the provinces of Preah Vihear, Uddor Meanchey, Ratanakiri, Mundulkiri, Kratie, and Stoeungtreng. We have to redress the situation where sometimes we have too high population rate in a less available land area and low population rate in the highly available land area. Among many reasons, absence of communication and road access is one of them. This situation has slow down the productive and trade activities. Today for the district if Khsach Kandal, we could foresee the interaction and interrelation among the districts of Kandal, Prey Veng and Kompng Cham provinces through the construction of the afore mentioned three roads.
… The three roads have a total distance of 26.800 kilometers. The first road is eight kilometer in length and stretching from the Preah Kunlong Bridge to the commune of Chey Thum and containing four bridges – Kaaong I (51 meters), Kaaong II (51 meters), Pannao (51 meters) and O Yim (51 meters). We have to make the area linked and commutable by road in both rainy and dry seasons. Alongside with this about 4,000 hectares of rice field could also be cultivable. The second road is linking between Vihearsuor to the commune of Bakdao with the total length of 15.800 kilometers. It contains three bridges – Prey Baing I (30 meters), Prey Baing II (21 meters) and Prek Tahuy (36 meters). This should facilitate traveling by our people in Peareang to Phnom Penh. The third road is about 3000 meters in length containing a bridge about 27 meters linking Preah Sre to the commune of Sithor. We will use up to 103 construction machineries and they are no outdated machines as in 1970s.
… We are now living in the culture of peace and all sorts of weapon are forbidden. As now we have good road condition, we notice new signboards of different parties displayed. They are welcome to do so as we all are living in a democratic society. The road is not built for just one or two particular person but for all –non-politician, politician – good and bad ones too. Just now I am blessed to be winner on all, but let me win in a situation that we all are coexisting peacefully. Before each side made claims to have destroyed so and so number of tanks, bridges and lives. We do not say that anymore but so and so number of lives that have been saved from death rate of children from polio, from HIV/AIDS, etc. We are in the culture of peace what else we should say about destroying. So if we win we also have to leave room for those who lose to survive in peace. We must not practice this saying “when the water rises, the fish eats ants and vice versa.” Some people have borne the concept of retaliation in their minds – I will take from the rich to give to the poor, if I win. This would create trouble again. We should be afraid of the repetition of the experience we had in the Pol Pot regime. As for school buildings, one of the current achievements, despite the fact that there has been anti-propaganda, I wish to say that children of any person could go to study in those schools. I do not care about their cursing but their children have to study hard and become good students. If they learn and refrain from cursing one another it is even better for all. All we should practice is performing good deed. I used to think that like when we had before 54 political parties, if each one builds our people one thousand water wells, we would have 54,000 wells in the whole country.
… Let me make one thing clear. Today we have these roads covered with red coarse soil. My vision is that based on the potential that we have learned, if I were to be entrusted to lead the Government in the third term after the general election on July 27, 2003, I would make this road asphalted and declare it the National Road 8. The NR 8 is linking Prek Tameak through Kompong Popil, the district of Pea Reang, Prey Veng Province to the NR 11 at Thmor Kor. It should be 60 kilometers in all. It should be realized in the term 2003-2008. We have got the foundation ready for asphalting later. This is taking place in the second term, in the third term one more NR would be existing in the culture of peace era. Some people might hint that Hun Sen is making an electoral campaign. Well how about all of you (opposition figures) are doing it everyday. Some of you even said that if you win you would confiscate from the rich to give them to the poor. What I am saying is just if I were re-elected for the third term, I will asphalt the road between Prek Tameak and Thmor Kor, the NR 11, and make it the NR 8. I do not think it is wrong to say so. I am now declaring to be the sole CPP candidate again for the post of Prime Minister. Some people said this has happened because Hun Sen moved his army around. I found that groundless and warned them that they should bother with their internal problem rather than trying to break open the Cambodian People’s Party internal affairs.
… Please do not force me to use my DIFID strategy. DIFID has in fact been the strategy to eliminate the Khmer Rouge. Well it is not a secret anymore. DIFID is an abbreviation from these terms – D for Divide, I for Isolate, F for Finish, I for Integrate and D for Develop. May I warn you that do not force me to change the last D from Develop to Destroy. So all political parties should refrain from breaking the CPP and pay more attention to your own affairs as trying to split CPP would result in a bad omen for your own. For the Khmer Rouge I have made the last D as develop but if some stubborn political parties continue to provoke CPP, I would consider using the last D as Destroy…